Celebrate Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger died on Monday at 94.  He had a long and full life, one that touched many other people and helped carry many causes.  We had the good fortune that he outlived many of his (many) enemies who would surely have had interesting responses to his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or his Kennedy Center honors.

Pete Seeger appeared virtually everywhere on the American left over the last seventy years or so.  When he showed up to sing in lower Manhattan at Occupy Wall Street, I posted some thoughts here.

A couple of things I didn’t say, but probably should have:

Pete Seeger was a very accomplished musician, particularly as a banjo player and designer.

Pete Seeger did everything he could to bring exposure to others, including activists and musicians.  In 1967 he hosted Rainbow Quest, a PBS music show, and provided a forum for a wide range of musicians, including Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Jean Ritchie, Malvina Reynolds, Judy Collins, Doc Watson, Rev. Gary Davis, and Donovan–and many others.

Pete Seeger was also an extremely effective organizer and institution-builder.  He was a founder of Sing Out!, the important folk song/activist magazine, which has continued for more than 60 years–now online, and the Clearwater foundation, which includes a sloop, a festival, and an activist community in the Hudson Valley of New York.

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About David S. Meyer

Author and professor of Sociology and Political Science at the University of California, Irvine
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